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Ear Peace HD earplugs review:
Biker47 trials these inexpensive plugs to see whether bikers can benefit from them…
Whilst primarily aimed at the music industry, the design is very similar to other products that you may well have seen being sold to bikers. Ear Peace HD plugs have a soft yet sturdy feel to them with the ability to swap the ‘attenuation filters’. The skin coloured one has a lower attenuation (let’s more sound through) with the red ones providing the highest protection. The idea is that the filters allow smaller amounts of unadulterated sound through – so the overall sound pressure is less – but you can still hear someone talking without too much raising of voices.
Given that the noise inside a helmet at speed can reach over 100dB and that could carry on for hours on a ride, I figured that I’d use the reds – easily ‘poppable’ in and out, the unused filters are stored at the bottom of the metal carry case, which in itself is a great and simple idea.
Left and right aren’t designated and so take your pick; getting the plugs into the ear involves holding the tab of the earplug at the top and then reaching over your head with your free hand to pull the target ear upwards – this makes in the ear canal a little straighter and therefore as you insert the fit is tighter. It is a technique to be learnt to be fair, but with a little practice you’ll ‘just know’ when you have it right.
The hypoallergenic silicone is very comfortable for sure, the ‘bells’ are designed to be squashed to give some friction to the fit, once they are in after a minute or so, you are not really aware that they are still in. Up to around 40-50mph it’s difficult to tell that they are actually doing anything, everything sounded pretty ‘normal’ – so much so I stopped, took them out and drove around some more… Ah yes, they are doing something! By allowing some unhindered sound through, your brain is fooled into thinking that everything’s ‘normal’; which it is, but the amount of sound getting through is less.
A longer period at higher speeds I did feel that they were starting to be beaten by the wind noise. It was a particularly blustery day, I could feel my neck muscles working harder to keep the head straight and at points the bike was at a permanent 3° lean to keep it straight. Hard work for all involved I reckoned. As a highly unscientific experiment, on the return trip I took one of them out and replaced it with a custom plug.
It became obvious that the HD’s don’t block sound as totally as the full blown plugs – but then they are not designed to.
How much sound you want to block whilst riding is a very personal thing… These HDs are easy to keep clean and the carabiner metal case is plainly sturdy and well designed to protect your investment. Coming with 3 plugs, in case you do actually lose one, the ability to pop different filters in is a useful one.
Positioned correctly, the allowance of unfiltered sound through, reduces the sound pressure on the ear yet you can still hear ‘the normal range’. Commuters, who generally travel for less time at lower speeds than the touring types will enjoy them particularly.
It’s worth saying that if you’re someone with in-helmet sound; like Bluetooth GPS or intercoms may well find these a product of choice. Full custom plugs will block all sound, and that might well impede your hearing your speakers – the Ear Peace HDs allow some sound through and that could be a distinct advantage for some.
There are choices of case colour as well as plug colours. You can even get the cases customised if you wanted to use them as a corporate gift (great idea by the way 🙂 ) and at £14.95 (USD $17.95) delivered they are a worthy contender in the motorcyclists’ fight against Tinnitus*.
NOTE: Ear Peace do also sell custom plugs in the US, partnering custom plug makers ACS – I’ll be testing their products soon.
*Tinnitus (‘permanent ringing noise in the ears’) is a result of permanent hearing damage and it’s understood that exposure to noise (either loud or prolonged) can trigger the condition. It’s estimated that between 10-15% of the population have the condition in varying levels.
Of course, that leaves 85% of the population unlikely to develop it, but bikers fall into the high risk category because of the prolonged exposure of wind noise; it can get over 100dB in the helmet at speed; that leaves the ‘safe’ exposure time down to 10-15 minutes… Ignore Tinnitus at your peril.